The dual mission of  Community Impact is to provide needed services to our surrounding neighbors, and to give Columbia and Barnard students the opportunity to develop leadership and management skills relevant to operating community and school-based programs.  In contributing to the programs and engaging with youth and adults, students are exposed to the realities of life in  low-income neighborhoods. The 27 different groups of Community Impact partner with social service agencies, faith-based organizations, senior centers and schools to serve over 8,000 neighbors each year in the Upper Manhattan neighborhoods of Harlem, Washington Heights, and Morningside Heights. 

Youth Programs

Community Impact (CI) oversees six out-of-school programs; one is a tutoring program  at a local shelter, another is an early childhood center, and in addition, there are four highly successful mentoring programs.  In the previous school year (2013-14), 80  CI volunteers served as mentors to over 80 neighborhood youth, ages 5-12 years, in the four mentoring programs. The volunteers organized outings to local sports, cultural sites and parks. Youth benefit from their relationship with their mentors and show an increased sense of trust and personal responsibility, as evidenced in questionnaires given at the beginning and end of the program. Many of the youths have been in their respective programs for more than three years. Also in this academic year, 260 volunteers gave school-based classroom and one-on-one tutoring support to 720 youth in local elementary schools. Two college prep programs prepare seniors from two local high schools to apply for college. In the last school year, all 140 seniors in the programs were accepted to a college, many having received multiple offers.

Emergency Programs

There are three CI programs that provide food and shelter to local residents. Community Lunch, with 60 volunteers in the last school year, served lunch to 1400 people  at a local church. Forty-eight volunteer members of  Project for the Homeless supervised two homeless shelters that provided overnight accomodation to 45 residents for 140 nights. Volunteers also distributed fresh  produce at the Ford Hall food pantry two days a week. Sixty  In addition, Habitat for Humanity particpated in 9 builds, including 2 community centers, 5 housing sites damaged by Hurricanne Sandy and 2 park clean-ups, helping 2320 residents.

Health and Environment

For the school year 2013-14, two CI groups with over 80 volunteers, informed 1200 local residents about signing up for health insurance, food stamps and other social service benefits. The environmental group, Earth Coalition organized 4 workshops during Earth Week, on Recycling, Energy, Food and Water, reaching about 200 campus folk.


Ninety Columbia and Barnard students and 100 community members teach, mentor and tutor in TASC, ESOL, and CUNY Assessment Test (CAT) Prep programs, serving 1,500+ adults from the local community. Many Columbia and Barnard alumni  volunteer as teachers and tutors in these programs also. With the efforts of our volunteers, more than 70% of participants acheived educational gain and /or a high school equivalency diploma in 2013-14.